Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t (Always) Work

vision board positive thinking

 

vision board positive thinkingManifesting your best future requires more than just positive thinking. These vision boards helped me manifest my dream.

Here’s how you can do it too:

  1. Declare your dream or intention. What’s your vision of who you want to be in your life?
  2. Let go of attachment to the outcome. Will you trust–even a little bit—that your positive power can help you achieve your wishes in a way that yields the highest good for all, even if it’s in an unexpected way?
  3. Get to work with growth tools. Will you direct your mind away from your negative thinking and toward loving power, so your desired outcome—or something better—will occur?

STEP 1. Declare Your Dream

The first step is to write an affirmation using the following guidelines.

  • Use the present tense. State your desire as if it has already happened: “I am relaxed, smart, and successful when I take my exam,” “I see (_________) without criticism and offer kindness instead.”
  • Use positive language. Make your statement affirmative: “I have strong flexible shoulders.” Avoid all negative language; for example, replace “I am not in pain,” with “I am free of pain and enjoy good health.”
  • Use concrete and emotionally powerful terms. The affirmation, “My marriage is strong, loving, honest, and wonderful!” arouses confident, optimistic feelings.
  • Make it open to love’s direction. Add the words, “in the best way for all involved,” or “as positive power would have it be.” (Read April 4, 2018 blog for more about “positive power.”)

“I write wonderful books in a wonderful way. I offer wonderful service for wonderful pay,” are the affirmations that helped me write my book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now. I adapted them from an example in Florence Scovel Shinn’s The Game of Life and How to Play It. The rhyme of way and pay helped me repeat my intention often. The phrase wonderful service engaged my wish to offer support and hope to others. And, of course, I am open to a positive payoff in whatever form it may appear!

To manifest my goal, I also practiced visualization—a mental programming technique using vivid images. Many successful athletes use this technique to enhance their performance, among them Jordan Spieth, the youngest winner of the 2017 British Open Golf Tournament, who often refers to seeing the shot before he hits the ball.

At the top of this post you can see photos of the two five-by-seven-inch, laminated vision boards I used to visualize my success. The words “Create something good. Yes, you! You’re done,” gave me inspiration. The dove, hearts, and word serenity reminded me of my positive power’s help. The woman leaping over the round object represents me overcoming my worries and achieving my goal. Oprah Winfrey is a symbol of courage and service to others.

I placed my vision boards on my desk in my direct line of vision. Before I began writing, I said my affirmations aloud, visualized them as true, and then connected my heart with the images on my boards.

I often visualized a future book-signing event where people tell me how much my book has helped them. Two months ago, I lived that dream at my first book signing event.

worry less nowSuddenly, I looked up from signing a book, and gasped in amazement. I was experiencing exactly what I had visualized for so many years!

We’ll start with Step 1; the next two blog entries will lead you through the other steps for manifesting your own dreams.

STEP 1. Write Your Affirmation

Think of a challenging situation that’s been worrying you, and imagine how you would like to feel and act in that situation. Just remember, if your goal involves another person, make sure you indicate how you want to be rather than focusing on how you want them to be.

1.     Use the guidelines to write your affirmation in your journal. If you’d like, add the words, “Thank you, (the name you use for positive power) for (fill in the blank).”

2.     Copy your affirmation onto a sticky note, and put it in a spot where you’ll frequently see it.

3.     Place another copy of your intention in a small box or special place.

4.     Repeat your affirmation as often as you can.

5.     Make a vision board that represents how you want your life to be when your desire is accomplished. Cut words and illustrations from magazines, draw pictures, or use photos. Arrange them in a way that is meaningful to you on a small card or larger piece of cardboard. The only absolute is that your board portray how your life will look after meeting your goal.

6.     Focus on your vision board images a couple of times a day and just before bedtime.

7.     When you state your affirmation or look at your vision board, immerse yourself in the emotions and sensations you would have if your wish were already fulfilled.

Now that you’ve chosen your goal, you come face-to-face with the hardest part of the process: STEP 2: Let the outcome go. Your first inclination might be to try to exert control to get the exact results you want. Your best option, however, is to do the opposite: Let go by cultivating the Buddhist virtue of nonattachment.

More on that in the next blog entry.

Worry Less Now; Gigi Langer
From me to you!

Gigi Langer is a former “queen of worry.” She’s also an educator, speaker, and author of 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection (February, 2018), available in e-book formats and in print from Amazon.  

Gigi holds an MA in Psychology and PhD in Psychological Studies in Education, both from Stanford. “Langer’s frank and empathetic tone will comfort readers, as will the practical steps she teaches.” (Featured Book, BookLife by Publishers Weekly)  “Her honesty will blow you away! It is beautifully written; filled with humor and authenticity.” (Member of Al Anon)

Two Ways to Stop Stress & Worry

 

worry, stress, negativityApril is Stress Awareness Month

Stress happens. But it doesn’t have to last. Here are two of my favorite tools for overcoming worry and negative thinking.

Loving-Kindness Practice

The loving-kindness practice Buddhists call metta calms your mind, opens your heart to goodness and love, and helps you know the positive power within your true self. The practice also asks for the healing of your fears, worries, and negative thinking so you can serve others’ growth.

1. Read the words aloud, pause, and then read them again.

May I be at peace. May my heart remain open.

May I awaken to the light of my own true nature.

May I be healed. May I be a source of healing for all beings.

2.  With one or more of your loved ones in mind, say the prayer again changing I to you: May you be at peace. May your heart….

3. Next, change you to we: May we be at peace….

4. Now use the May you version of the prayer for a person you feel is causing you worry, frustration, or pain.

5. Whenever you have a negative thought about anything, repeat the phrases of loving-kindness and notice how you begin to respond differently.

The Activity of God, by Sig Paulson, Daily Word (Unity)

I repeat this affirmation whenever I feel trapped by worry or stress. It reminds me my negative thoughts are making my problems appear bigger than they are; and these appearances are just that, figments of my overactive imagination. It shrinks my fears by reminding me of who I truly am: an individual expression of positive loving power.

The activity of God is the only power

At work in my mind, heart, and life.

All false beliefs, all negative appearances

Are dissolved right now

By the loving, forgiving action of God.

I am whole, strong, and free

As God created me to be.

First, you assert your positive power is supreme, that it’s bigger than your past wounds, stronger than your worries and fears, and it’s wiser than your intellect. This benevolent power is the only one you want to influence your life.

In the second section, you claim your loving power dissolves your negative beliefs and fearful imaginings. (I love the image of dissolving; I see it as washing out, softening, and reducing the sludge-like fears and worries of my mind.)

In this same sentence, you encounter the words, forgiving action of God. This forgiveness doesn’t refer to sin or any other dogma. It simply means releasing the negative thoughts and actions that separate you from others.

You claim the truth of who you are in the last sentence; not the person you may present to the world, but your true self, endowed with positive power, whole, strong and free.

gigilanger_worrylessnow

Gigi Langer is a former “queen of worry.” She’s also an educator, speaker, and author of 50 Ways to Worry Less Now: Reject Negative Thinking to Find Peace, Clarity, and Connection, published in February, 2018. “Langer’s frank and empathetic tone will comfort readers, as will the practical steps she teaches.” (Featured Book, BookLife by Publishers Weekly)

Why Willpower Is Just Not Enough

willpower, worry less now
self will run riot

 Sheer Willpower Can’t Bring Us Happiness

How well has trying to control others worked for you? Do you believe you can impose the changes you’d like to see in the world? Perhaps you’ve tried and failed to change even your own behavior.

When you honestly admit your personal willpower can’t fulfill your desires, a wondrous alternative appears. I call it positive power: a source of courage and hope that is greater than your fears, worries, or perceived limitations.

I had my first inkling of a positive power after a meditation teacher suggested that I sit quietly, observe my thoughts, and then ask myself, “Right now, who is watching my thinking?” The question stopped me in my tracks. I wondered, “If I am my thoughts—which I believed up until that point—how could another part of me be observing them?” And, yet, there I was, watching my mind be amazed by this astounding idea. For the first time, I realized there must be some part of me that is greater than my thoughts.

Studies reveal that believers in such a power are happier than those who don’t believe. They can find peace and direction, no matter what’s going on in their lives (Stephanie Castillo, Prevention, May 7, 2013). 

How each of us comes to understand this power is highly personal and our business only. Thus, I won’t suggest you worship any particular spiritual entity, religion, dogma, or philosophy. In the exercise below, you’ll define this source in a way that works for you.

Regardless of what you call it, you will come to understand this power more and more. To claim the benefits of positive power, try the tools offered in my blog and book (50 Ways to Worry Less Now).

Time for Action! Name Your Positive Power

1.  Take a minute to ponder what kind of power could bring goodness into your life.

2.  Read the common names for a source of a positive power below. Pause to notice which ones, if any, feel right for you.

3.  Select a few names that work for you. Circle them, write them down, or hold them in your heart.

4.  If your past taught you to be fiercely independent, it may take a while to trust this power. But stick with it and you’ll reap the rewards.

Abba Energy Inner Guide Providence
Adonai God (Good Orderly Direction) Healer Ram
Allah Great Spirit Jesus /Jehova Shiva
Angels Guardian Angel Light Sophia (feminine deity)
Being Healing Energy or Resonance Mary Source
Buddha Higher Power Nature’s Perfection Tao
Christ, Holy Spirit Higher Self Oneness True Self
Courage Holy Father Perfect Order Wisdom
Divine Mind Infinite/Universal Intelligence Positive Attitudes and Beliefs Yahweh

To connect with this power, try some of the tools in my other blog posts. Or, write a comment here about some of your own favorite tools.

The Positive Power of Healthy Others

Where two or more are gathered in loving purpose, amazing things happen.  Researcher Brené Brown found that people who cope well with hardship, stress, or trauma believe they are “connected to each other by a power greater than all of us.”

Kindness from others who hold no agenda other than goodness is a powerful force for healing. In fact, that’s the way many of us in Twelve-Step programs first felt this benevolent force. The people there had no selfish motives; they saw beyond my shameful past into my true goodness. Their kind regard and wise words showed me a loving power I had never known.

You too can share your life challenges and solutions with positive people. Consider carefully what they say and how they live their lives. I suggest meeting weekly with one or two others who fit the characteristics listed here. Perhaps you could read my book or another that you find inspiring.

As you continue to meet, you’ll likely experience a positive power that will enable you to handle life’s challenges with peace and wisdom.

Worry Less Now; Gigi LangerGigi Langer holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She is a seasoned author and popular speaker who has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and work. Gigi hasn’t had a drug or drink for over 30 years, although she does occasionally overindulge in Ghirardelli chocolate and historical novels.

Worry Less Now by Gigi LangerHer new book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now (available here from Amazon & e-book vendors) has gained rave reviews:

“[A] valuable, heartfelt manual.” (Featured Book, BookLife by Publishers Weekly)

“Langer writes from both experience and expertise. A powerful tool for readers.” (Library Journal)

“Highly recommended for anyone who worries too much, lives too hard a life, and searches for a better way.” (Midwest Book Review)

“Gigi Langer’s honesty will blow you away! It is beautifully written; filled with humor and authenticity.” (Member of Al Anon)

 

Video: How to Stop Your Negative Thinking

Most negative thinking isn’t true. So, why let it trouble us?

SCRIPT FOR VIDEO:   My [negative] thoughts are based on past experiences and future predictions–all of which have been reinterpreted by my brain in a fictional way . . . really! My brain created this scenario in the future, and it hasn’t even happened. My brain created this thing about the past and has “awfulized” it.

So first, don’t trust a thought. You know, espectially when we’re tense, our thinking is whacked. So the first thing: “Oh, Okay; this thought I’m thinking doesn’t have to be the one I stick with.” Okay?

So, then, 4. The decision: I’m gonna change my thinking. So, when I recognize that my thoughts are based on past experiences, just to give you an  example: the Kindle (upload) thing. [I kept failing at it.] I hate failure. You know, I just hate failure

And here’s . . .Underneath each fear and worry is what I call in the book (and it’s a theme throughout) a Whispered Lie: “You’re going to screw up!”  “You’re not going to look good!”  You know. Or it could be a self-statement: “Oh, man! I’ll never be able to figure this out; I hate technology.” You know, all those lovely helpful things we tell ourselves. (Audience laughs)

So, all the techniques in the book are about dissolving those Whispered Lies so that hope, clarity, and good things can come in.

So, the first one we’re going to try is my favorite; it’s called the Golden Key. And it’s the simplest thing. The premise of all of these is that you have control over what your mind dwells on. You absolutely have a choice. And it’s a minute-by-minute (or sometimes a second-by-second) thing.

So, with the Golden Key, I’m gonna make a decision: Every time I have a negative thought or feeling about something (“Oh! I’m uploading that Kindle file tonight; it’s never gonna work!”), I’m going to gently replace it with a positive thought, or a prayer, or an inspiring image.

So, you get to choose what that is. For me, I’m gonna say, “All is well. Everything is in perfect order.” That’s something that works for me. For you it might be the Serenity Prayer, an image of a rose, um, a light . . . anything that connects you with some source of goodness bigger than your fear. Something that you can tell yourself or focus on that’s bigger than the fear. A source of good.

So think of what that might be for you. . . [The Video ends here; participants practice silently switching their thoughts from the negative to their positive phrase or image]

To read about Emmet Fox’s Golden Key technique, click here.

For more tips, buy 50 Ways to Worry Less Now at Amazon  It’s been out for 3 weeks and gotten great reviews! I hope it helps you find peace, clarity, and connection as you free yourself from worry and negative thinking.  Best of luck! – Gigi Langer, former “Queen of Worry”

Gigi Langer holds an MA in Psychology and PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. She is a seasoned author and popular speaker who has helped thousands of people improve their lives at home and work. Langer hasn’t had a drug or drink for over 30 years, although she occasionally overindulgeS in Ghirardelli chocolate and historical novels. Gigi lives happily in Michigan with her husband, Peter and her cat, Murphy.